The Little Rock Airport Commission voted unanimously this morning to rename the Little Rock airport the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
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The vote came after a short public hearing at which people expressed their support or opposition to the renaming.
Three people spoke against the name change. Margaret and Will Piper said renaming the airport would “glorify” President Clinton’s “debauchery” and “aggressive assault on American ideals,” and accused the airport of acting in secret to rename the airport and thinking that “we’re too worn out to fight for our principles.” Jimmy D. Jones, who identified himself as a “God-called Baptist minister,” said it was “unreal” that Clinton, as president of the greatest nation on earth, would be overcome by “fleshly lust” and if that was Christian, who would want to be Christian?
Among those speaking for the name change were Jerry Jones, legal officer and vice president at Acxiom, who praised the former president and secretary of state for their contributions to Arkansas; former Clinton aide Bob Nash, who said Clinton’s policies as both governor and president and Hillary Clinton’s work with children have improved the life of Arkansans; state House speaker-elect Darrin Williams, who called the Clinton Presidential Center an “amazing” economic engine; Paul Leopoulos, longtime Clinton friend and head of the Thea Foundation, who said the Clintons have worked tirelessly to improve the life of people around the globe; and Charles Stewart, chair of the Black Hall of Fame and a member of the board of Heifer International, who said naming the airport for the Clintons would “elevate its stature” and that without the Presidential Center that Heifer International would likely have built its headquarters in Chicago or some other larger city.
Gene Fortson, city director and former Airport Commission member, spoke in Mayor Mark Stodola’s stead, saying it was his view that the naming was not about politics but about recognizing a six-term governor, two-term president and a secretary of state.
One speaker, Rick Parker, said he supported the name change but objected to it being the “Bill and Hillary” Clinton airport because it’s “too countrified” and could come to be known as the “Hillbillary” airport.
Airport Commission Chair Jim Dailey thanked the speakers for their input and called for a vote. Asked after the vote if public comment had been adequate, he said yes, since the idea had been discussed more or less openly since December and actively at a commission committee meeting. “Some wanted a longer period of time [for public comment],” he said, but “I don’t think it would have made a difference.”
The airport will send the FAA papers on the name change today; Executive Director Ron Mathieu, speaking by phone, said the Commissioners could refer to the airport as the “recently renamed” Clinton airport.
See renderings of proposed signs from our earlier item.
(More on the jump.)